Comic Review: The Death of Captain America, Vol. 1: The Death of the Dream

Published: June 11th, 2008
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting, Mike Perkins

Marvel Comics, 161 Pages

Review:

I was excited to read this after having recently read Ed Brubaker’s first three volumes in his Captain America run, as well as revisiting the Civil War event.

This story takes place immediately after Civil War and in the first issue of this collection, we see Cap arrive at the courthouse to stand trial only for him to be assassinated on the steps before entering.

What follows is a political thriller with a lot of twists, turns and curveballs. This story is also used to setup Bucky Barnes a.k.a. Winter Solider as the new gun-toting Captain America. While he doesn’t become the new Cap yet, this is the start of that interesting journey and intriguing era for the character.

The death of Cap happens so quick and once you get past that, this deals with the fallout from it and how it effects certain characters while also slowly revealing that something is very complicated with one of them. I don’t want to say too much for risk of spoiling a major plot twist.

I thought that this was pretty good but it doesn’t have a definitive ending. It’s left open ended, as this is the first of several parts collecting the larger saga around Cap’s death and Bucky’s evolution into the role of Cap’s replacement.

Brubaker once again wrote a compelling and interesting story with superb art by Steve Epting and Mike Perkins.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run.

Comic Review: Deathstroke, Vol. 4: Family Business

Published: December 20th, 2016
Written by: James Bonny, Phil Hester, Christopher Priest
Art by: Tyler Kirkham

DC Comics, 157 Pages

Review:

This is the conclusion to the Deathstroke run that happened before DC’s Rebirth. This series started with Tony S. Daniel writing and doing the art. However, this finale was written by James Bonny, who came in at the end of the previous volume.

Even with a change in writers, this stayed consistently good throughout and it helps bring a satisfying end to the story of Slade Wilson trying to rebuild his relationship with his children Rose and Jericho.

This picks up right where the previous volume ended, as it ended on a cliffhanger.

This also features a subplot with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins, who involve themselves in Slade’s war with Lawman, Snakebite and Victor Ruiz. With Ra’s, we are given a big plot twist, as he’s always got deception up his sleeve. Both Ra’s al Ghul and Deathstroke leave this story with their lives but it sets up a real blood feud between the two villain heavyweights.

There are also cameos by Red Hood and Batman. The Clock King shows up in the last issue collected in this volume, which is actually the first Deathstroke issue of the Rebirth era. Needless to say, this ends leading right into Christopher Priest’s lengthy run on this character.

In the end, I really liked this series a lot, even more so than Priest’s, which I found to be mostly great.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the rest of the 2014-2016 Deathstroke run, as well as the Christopher Priest era that followed.

Comic Review: Cyberfrog: Amphibionix

Published: September, 2019
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter

All Caps Comics, 20 Pages

Review:

I really dug Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney and I also thought that the Cyberfrog 1998 ashcan was well done, if not slightly better in how it bridged a long gap and showed an improvement in overall storytelling. So I obviously went into this second ashcan with great enthusiasm.

Out of the three modern Cyberfrog releases, thus far, this one was my least favorite. That being said, it’s still really damn good and it’s still pretty consistent with the vibe, style and quality of the other two.

This one is kind of a side story from back in the day, before Cyberfrog went into a multiple decades hibernation. It follows him and his bestie, Heather Swain, before shit really hits the fan with the alien invasion that wrecked the planet.

In this short, one-off story, Cyberfrog has an evil nun impostor stuck to his shoulder blades. What follows is a series of comedic events, as he attempts to get the corpse off of him.

I like Ethan Van Sciver’s humor and it really shines here. In fact, that’s something that this book does better than the others.

Furthermore, Van Sciver once again shows why he is one of the best comic book artists of our time, as this just looks incredible, visually. I also have to give credit to colorist Kyle Ritter, who only gets better and better with every project he works on. I’m really looking forward to his Starblades comic book.

Cyberfrog: Amphibionix was a blast! While I am eager to continue on in the main story, as new installments come out, I hope that Van Sciver does find time to throw in some one-off stories like this one. Plus, I’m kind of a junkie for ashcans and mini-comics.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Ethan’s Green Lantern and Flash stuff, as well as the original Cyberfrog run at Harris Comics.

Comic Review: Deathstroke, Vol. 3: Suicide Run

Published: August 16th, 2016
Written by: Tony Salvador Daniel, James Bonny
Art by: Tyler Kirkman

DC Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

Man, oh, man. I’ve really been enjoying the hell out of Tony S. Daniel’s Deathstroke run and it may be my favorite run on the character since his solo series debut back in 1991. But honestly, I find these stories to be even more fun than those and I like how the personality of Deathstroke has changed over the years and especially, how he’s presented in this series.

Deathstroke is still a badass, cold mercenary but he’s become driven in an effort to find his missing daughter and to try and fix their relationship.

I also like that he was made younger and how that kind of freshens him up and gives him extra vigor.

Additionally, I really like his interactions with Harley Quinn throughout this series, as she’s the version of the character I like best. She’s not a goofy female wannabe Deadpool, as she’s become in recent years, and she’s more of a broken yet clever person, playing everyone in the story in a way that benefits her. Plus, she’s also pretty badass too.

While this volume does end on a cliffhanger, I didn’t mind that, as this has been so good, I’m going to read the fourth and final volume, regardless. But at the same time, even with a cliffhanger, this is a good self-contained story that’s broken out into two parts: the first sees Deathstroke raid Belle Reve, where he has to fight Suicide Squad members and the second, which sees him fight Red Hood and involves a major double cross that sets up the finale.

From the writing to the art, this is solid from top to bottom. It’s a great run on the character and even though I loved Christopher Priest’s run that followed, it didn’t have the same sort of energy and pace.

If you are a fan of the character, you should probably check out the entire Tony Daniel run from 2014-2016.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of the 2014-2016 Deathstroke run, as well as the Christopher Priest era that followed.

Comic Review: Civil War

Published: April 11th, 2007
Written by: Mark Millar
Art by: Steve McNiven

Marvel Comics, 196 Pages

Review:

I loved Civil War when I first read it over a dozen years ago. It reignited my interest in Marvel Comics and I stuck with a lot of the core stories that were born out of these events.

For those that don’t know, this pits two factions of superheroes against each other: one group led by Captain America and the other led by Iron Man. It would also go on to inspire the movie Captain America: Civil War, nine years later.

Cap’s group is against a new law that would force superheroes to give up their secret identities and become agents of the government. Iron Man agrees with the law, after a group of C-list heroes are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of children. Spider-Man, the third central character, starts the story on one side and then switches after certain events give him newfound clarity.

The story, the idea and its execution are near perfect. In fact, I’m not sure how this wasn’t a story idea before this, as it seems like a natural development for the superhero genre. Regardless, Mark Millar penned magic here and this is, hands down, one of the greatest mega events in comic book history.

Having just read two of DC’s massive Crisis events and seeing how they were massive clusterfucks, this is the complete antithesis of those and goes to show how much better Marvel is (or was) at bringing a massive group of characters together.

I also really enjoyed Steve McNiven’s art and it fit the tone well. McNiven was one of the top artists at the time and his talent was put to great use here.

My only negative takeaway is that this story should’ve been longer than seven issues. It felt like there was a lot more story to tell. But then again, there are literally dozens of Civil War tie-ins that you can read for more context and to see what other heroes were up to during this saga. From memory, a lot of them were also pretty good.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: all the other Civil War crossover tie-in trade paperbacks, as well as The Death of Captain America.

Comic Review: Infinite Crisis

Published: 2005-2006
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Phil Jimenez

DC Comics, 241 Pages

Review:

I hated Crisis On Infinite Earths but I had hoped that this more modern version of it would’ve been more to my liking. I guess it is better but not by much because it falls victim to the same bullshit.

It’s overloaded with characters to the point that it’s difficult to follow and it just becomes a mega clusterfuck, trying to be larger than life while wedging a fuck ton of characters into double splash pages.

DC likes doing these big events that try to “reset” the multiverse and all they do is become overly complicated messes that ignore their own established rules because new writers don’t have time to read the old stuff or pay attention to it. In Geoff Johns’ defense, the event this is a spiritual sequel to was a convoluted shitstorm, so I don’t blame him for paying it no real mind.

If I’m going to try and look at the positives, there is really only one: the art by Phil Jimenez. It’s spectacular and it is lively and even if I don’t enjoy the story, it’s hard not to get caught up in the absolute beauty of Jimenez’s work. It’s stunning and even on those overcrowded splash pages, he fills the space magnificently and dynamically.

Apart from that, there’s not much to say. This isn’t as messy as its predecessor but it is still an over-sized shit meatball.

Rating: 5/10 – because of the art more than anything else.
Pairs well with: other massive DC Comics events that are overloaded with characters.

Comic Review: Black and White – Remastered, Vol. 1

Published: December, 2019
Written by: Art Thibert, Pamela Thibert, Taylor Grosso
Art by: Art Thibert, Periya Pillai, Hack Shack Color

Image Comics/Extreme Studios (original run), Hack Shack Studios, 52 Pages

Review:

I had the old issues of Art Thibert’s Black and White back when Image published them in 1993. I barely remembered the series but I did always like Thibert’s art, especially his X-Men stuff.

So when I saw that he was crowdfunding a remastered version of that old creation of his, I figured I’d back it and get reacquainted with these characters.

Overall, this was an energetic and nice read. This version of the book looks really good and it is improved upon.

I wasn’t quite expecting it to end in the middle of the story but I also backed this awhile ago and I might have forgotten that detail. So there is a second volume coming out in the future, which will complete the story. When that happens, I’m not sure, as Thibert is currently working on another project called Chrono Mechanics.

As far as the story goes, I found it pretty interesting but it reads like a lot of the other early Image superhero stuff. It feels as if it doesn’t know where it’s going and it’s trying to find its footing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Todd McFarlane’s Spawn was a bit shaky in its early issues. I would definitely say that this is better than Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood, which I always thought was poorly written. So for early Image stuff, I’d say that this is somewhere in the middle.

I liked the characters but I also didn’t feel like I was given enough material to fully understand them, which doesn’t do much in generating excitement over the eventual second volume.

Still, this did a decent job of laying some groundwork for future exploration. However, I’m not sure if Thibert wants to keep this series going or if the second part will just be the actual end of it.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other early Image and Valiant superhero comics.